The article “How Governments get stuff done,” by Rachel Curran, is about overcoming the difficulties presented when attempting to deliver on a political agenda. Rachel Curran is heavily experienced in the area of public affairs, as she has provided the Prime Minister of Canada and cabinet ministers with policy advice. She is also a lawyer and also spent time overseeing all major governmental initiatives for Stephen Harper. Throughout her article, Curran makes several points that are presented within a list giving advice on how to successfully deliver on a political agenda, as she states that it is quite difficult to do such once in a position of government. These points can be related to the different approaches to politics as discussed in lecture, such as the rational-choice approach and state-based approaches.
The first point that Curran makes within her article is that governments should not be too ambitious when it comes to making promises and planning for the future because a four year term is a small amount of time. There is no doubt that it takes some time for a new government to settle in, however a key technique for not being too ambitious as stated by Curran is to focus on what is reasonably achievable based on time-frames. Curran suggests in her second point that to successfully deliver on a political agenda, governments must dispose of irrelevant priorities. It is important that once a government is presented with a list of necessary things to do, that they can establish an understanding of what is important and what will become a distraction. The third point that Curran asserts is that governments must consider the necessary timelines and be firm in regards to them. Resolving different delays in government processes quickly, such as a dispute occurring within departments, is important to maintain the rigid and necessary timelines. The fourth method for successfully delivering on a political agenda is that it is important to establish a decision-making process that is clear, recognisable, and involves the prime minister. Curran argues in her fifth point that it is important to be sure that the government has the capabilities to do what is required.
It is often difficult for new governments to address where there may be existing gaps. A leader must understand that theoretical power exists in the government, however this does not mean that they have the practical ability to perform tasks successfully. The sixth point presented in the article is that governments must be prepared for the unexpected.
Things such as natural disasters, health or economic crisis, and international political disruption are just some of the examples of situations that could occur during a four-year term, so governments must create space to deal with these situations as they occur. The seventh point that Curran claims as necessary to successfully deliver on a political agenda is to not spend time focusing on how to deliver, because then necessary things are not getting done, such as passing legislation. As discussed in lecture, political science can be broken down into several approaches, both categorized into state-centered approaches, and society-centered approaches.
In lecture, it was stated that the rational-choice approach does not qualify into just one of the categories. This approach to politics is significant to that of successfully delivering on a political agenda because the rational-choice approach is about seeking to maximize utility, or acheive where the actions are being aimed. The overall goal of a successful delivery on a political agenda is to maximize the efficiency to which a task is completed, whether this be maintaining timelines or focusing on required tasks as opposed to distractions. The root of the rational-choice approach is achieving the end result, which in this case is a successful delivery on a political agenda. Another set of approaches that can be closely related to the idea of successfully delivering on a political agenda are state-based approaches. State-based approaches focus on the significance of the power placed in state actors as they use their powers to benefit their country socially and economically. In order for a state to flourish socially and economically, the actors running it must do things to the best of their abilities, which is why it is important to focus on successfully delivering on a political agenda.
Not being too ambitious and being prepared for the unexpected are just two examples of how to have a strong economy as stated in the article by Curran. The state is the centre of all government-based institutions, and a very significant part of government, therefore it is important that the prime minister and other political actors are able to maintain the regulations and achieve economic and social success, and concurrently deliver the political agenda successfully. In conclusion, it can be determined that it is very important to successfully deliver on a political agenda when being placed in a high position of authority, such as prime minister.
The political agenda of the elected term determines the overall outcome of that term and its success. The tips and guidelines provided by Curran within her article are very beneficial, as they are easy to follow and provide concrete examples of situations in which errors arise.